In the good ol’ days stores & salesmen performed well more than anything because they knew and understood their clients and especially their clients’ needs. Nowadays, the game has changed especially with digital marketing, as very often, you might never actually meet your clients in person as many transations occur purely on the web, via email or over the phone. That being said, human interaction remains NEARLY unchanged; it’s really only the environment that’s changed.
With that in mind, in a virtual environment, how do you “know” your client and how do you develop a relationship that approaches the warmth of live human interactions?
It does indeed take quite a bit of skill to be able to “read” & & react to you your client in a colder medium i.e. an email interaction. But beyond those “soft digital skills”, on an much more global level, digital marketing is quickly moving towards more innovative ways of intelligently growing a relationship with prospects & clients – turning the “big data” behind your client interactions into smart data, and smart actions or ways of building trust & an ongoing business relationship.
This sector’s activity called Client Relationship Management, while not new, is a rapidly growing market, and with good reason, as all of this big data is finally helping companies implement ever-optimized marketing & sales practices. Along those lines, today we’re going to discuss how your organization can choose a good fit for a CRM and why our clients at Evercontact tend to prefer certain solutions among the MANY offers that are out there on the market.
In 2014, CRM options seem also endless.
You have the big players like Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle that are pushing hard to take the royal seat of CRMs, but at the same time, there’s a recent explosion of startups with more niche offers that are quickly gaining attention as well (notably SugarCRM, yesware , nimble, contactually…) and Paul Greenburg’s annual CRM watchlist is a great example demonstrating all of the movement, innovation and of course, options in the market!
With so many options, these fundamental factors will drive your successful choice & implementation of a CRM: 1) Goals of your CRM implementation 2) The size of your sales team 3) Driving adoption and avoiding pitfalls
1) What is the goal of your CRM strategy?
What are you and your team really looking for?
A) Something simple to track & improve client conversion?
B) or something a bit more complete to improve your sales team’s efficiency in managing & closing opportunities at many different levels?
C) To give your sales managers a global overview of the current pipeline and be able to easily export sales forecasts?
D) To provide the overall experience of each customer to all of the teammates that might interact with them (sales, support, accounting, etc)?
E) To launch, automate and improve marketing campaigns via email, landing pages, social media and more?
F) Big emphasis on social, and the overall customer experience?
G) To ensure that you’re providing the best customer service for your clients, and that maybe not only via email, social media, telephone but all of the above?
If you answered “all of the above” and maybe even more, you would certainly not be alone, and many people are often specifically looking for both a sales/marketing implementation.
The goal is then to decide what are the most important features for your team and to start to do a comparison between the availability of those features and of course, your budget, as some CRMs are completely free (or free up until a certain number of users), while others start well above $100/seat/month. From there, you’ll want to customize your CRM to your organization, and keep it as simple as possible at the start so that the integration is successful as we’ll discuss in section 3 below.
At Evercontact, we find that a large portion of our SMB clients are above all looking for a way to better structure & analyze their pipeline. For this, we continually hear good things about Highrise, Zoho, Yesware & Contactually. Still on the smaller scale, and more marketing trigger action-oriented, we hear great things about Intercom (and enjoy it ourselves!), & then moving up to a larger scale, Hubspot, Salesforce, Infusionsoft & Marketo are names that are mentioned often when a client really starts to automate their marketing in addition to fine-tuning their sales process.
2) The Size of your Sales Team
Do you collaborate with, or oversee 3 salesmen, or 300? Or maybe it’s just you to start but you see others joining very soon?
You might be able to scale up a 10-person sales team on Highrise, a lightweight cloud CRM many of our clients enjoy for its simplicity & core actions, but after that, you’re more than likely going to tend towards their larger corporate offer (basecamp). Likewise, you could start out on Zoho, which is free for teams up to 3 – and you could of course enjoy our handy chrome plugin to save contacts to your database there– and from there scale up quite a bit to a 30-50 person team. Or you might be seduced by the powerful offer & community that Salesforce has & want to start out with a more complete CRM offer that clearly is used by fortune 500 companies, as well as SMBs.
The number of your teammates will certainly help determine which solution is best for you now, and you also want to plan ahead for growth over the next year or two as a CRM integration, and really any change for that matter, is quite an investment & needs to be approached strategically as we’ll discuss below.
3) Driving Adoption & avoiding pitfalls
“If you build it, they will come”… or not… and that’s probably the most important element of any CRM integration — making sure that your team sees value & is interacting with the software, otherwise, no will be getting any value of the integration.
With this in mid, if you’ve only used a CRM before – and never actually implemented one – it would be worth your while to look into bringing on a specialist to help you set up your strategy & ways of successfully implementing the system within your team. They’ll be able to guide you among the many options out there, configure the system for your companies’ more important needs, help consolidate & merge data into the new system and be the ambassador at the start to strategically “sell” & train your team on the value of the new software.
From there, here are 5 pointers that you need to keep in mind while moving forward with your integration.
1) Keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple. Not only will this help with adoption, but you’ll never be able to meet everyone’s requested features, and if you start off with something complicated, no one will use it. So start simple and build from there.
2) Roll it out gradually & focus on showing the value for the end user, and THEN the company. Bringing in a specialist might be a good idea to sell the salesmen from the start & drive home the 2 or 3 core actions that’ll really help them in their work, so that they then dig in even more.
3) Minimize boring data entry— and this is where Evercontact is REALLY valuable.
If a talented, smart salesman or saleswomen is forced to REPEATEDLY type in the email, the telephone number, the company, the role, the address… and more for EVERY single lead or client, 9 times out of 10 they simply won’t do it (unless of course, their direct success depends on it). Automate this with Evercontact & you’ll see a much easier transition to an effective CRM within your company. Also, many fields can have a default option that is accurate most of the time, requiring a bit less input from the sales team. Keep the customized, required fields to only the most important areas.
Evercontact currently has integrations for Salesforce, Highrise, Zoho, Connectwise & is always interested to hear what else you’d like to see us integrate with (add your ideas here). Additionally, almost every major CRM has an integration with zapier, so you can easily create a rule so that Evercontact updates in google contacts are then pushed to Nimble for example.
4) Figure out a number of “motivators” to help scale up each individual sales person. Whereas people in accounting have to use accounting software, and marketing teams require marketing data, many good salespeople are convinced that they can do their job with nothing but their experience & gut. You’ll want to find some arguments and incentives to keep them moving on the new adoption.
5) Decide who will oversee the integration & make them not only the ambassador for proper adoption, but also the person who “owns the data” and can convince each individual sales person of the value of using the CRM (and inputting their data). Make sure that the VP of sales or the CEO are also using the system to show that it’s permeating through the culture and everyone else sees this and is driven to adopt as well.
Whenever you see an already 20 Billion dollar industry like CRM, grow over 13% in a single year, you can be sure there are many good reasons for that growth, and that the competition alone for market shares will continue to improve the innovation within the sector! In the next 5 years alone, social CRM is expected to quadruple, so, whether you’re a solopreneur, an SMB, or a larger enterprise, it is certainly a good time to evaluate (or re-evaulate) your CRM potential, and doing so with Evercontact will indeed help you scale up user adoption even faster!